Friday, December 30, 2022

Karen S. Wiesner: The Four Myths Your Muse Desperately Wants You to Believe, Part 1

Writer's Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner

The Four Myths Your Muse Desperately Wants You to Believe, Part 1

by Karen S. Wiesner

 Based on FIRST DRAFT OUTLINE (formerly titled FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS) 

This is the first of four posts dealing with how writers can get their muses to work with rather than against them.

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t always believe my muse was working with me. When I first started writing, I was convinced my muse was a sadistic taskmaster who enjoyed having enormous power over me. He (apparently my muse is male) could make me happy, he could make my life everything I could ever want...and he could make me utterly miserable by working me to death, leading me every-which-way just to get a finished book, or leaving me altogether just when I needed him most. It was all under his power, and I believed I had to accept the situation or he’d take the words away—maybe for good.

Now, most writers are stereotypical hosts: They believe if their muse leaves them, they must have done something horribly wrong. If the muse comes and guides them on a magical journey of enlightenment, they feel utterly blessed. They accept whatever their muse throws at them simply because the muse has exactly what they need. The words, the words! We need the words! Anything to get them! 

The muse likes to withhold its favors from us because it gives it even more power over us. It likes to lead us in the wrong direction or make us slave endlessly—working and re-working the same things over and over—to make us realize just how dependent we are on it. Who created writer’s block and spread the rumor that a writer’s dirge will be played if we defy our omnipotent muse? Guess.

This for-part article takes a stab at the all-powerful muse and shatters some of the myths it leads us to believe are the truth in order to keep us in line.

Myth One:  You have to be a slave to your muse.

Writers who are slaves to their muse are positively on fire for their craft...when the muse has them in its fickle grasp, that is—then and only then. When the muse is withholding favors, these writers may feel they have no sense of purpose or direction. When they’re in the grip of writer’s fever, they’re the happiest, most fulfilled people in the world. When they burn out like a comet in the night,—and it is always that dramatic—they’re miserable. They write day and night for a couple weeks or months solid, conceivably producing anywhere up to fifty or more pages a day. Writer’s block and burn-out are constant fears. Muse-driven authors may or may not finish a project. If they’re unpublished, more often than not, they don’t finish. They tend to write in a non-linear, chaotic fashion, heeding the muse in whatever direction it calls. There is no feeling of control over this creative urge they have. These authors are terrified of their muse; they, essentially, worship it from afar, not daring to get too close and disturb the Almighty Bard. They are willing, superstitious slaves to their muses.

Does this describe you at this point in your writing? Don’t worry. Almost every writer starts out this way and may continue because she’s been told it’s the only way, or she’s superstitious and deathly afraid of defying her muse.

During my years as a slave to my muse, each book I wrote required a minimum of twelve drafts (read:  start to finish overhauls). I never used an outline; I couldn’t even imagine how any writer could see far enough ahead to use an outline when I couldn’t see the present scene before I wrote it, let alone see these things in detail. I wrote by the seat of my pants, never knowing what would happen from one scene to the next. Frequently, I ended up with a thousand pages of useless drivel, too. Other times I at least came out of the book knowing what was right and what was wrong with the project. I could then set it aside for a while and come back to it fresh later, ready to start all over again with those “right” parts.

After writing a dozen books like that, I got better at the whole process of writing and I could write four of these overhaul drafts instead of twelve, coming out with a fairly clean novel. It still wasn’t as efficient as I wanted to be. Let’s face it, it’s exhausting and intimidating to go into writing a book thinking you’re going to have to do this at least four times before you get it right.

I had my life happen to me all at once when I was twenty-nine—I had my first child and my first book accepted for publication almost simultaneously. A fickle muse wasn’t what I needed. I was forced to make a decision about how I was going to juggle everything, and quick.

In the next part of this article, we'll talk about another myth your muse desperately wants you to believe.

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of First Draft Outline

Volume 1 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection

Happy writing!

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here:

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Modernizing Scrooge

Many of Shakespeare's plays have been transmuted into modern settings, such as WEST SIDE STORY (from ROMEO AND JULIET), SHE'S THE MAN (from TWELFTH NIGHT), and 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU (from THE TAMING OF THE SHREW), not to mention at least one animated animal drama, Disney's THE LION KING (from HAMLET). Jane Austen's novels have become a source for modern romantic movies, e.g. BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY (from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE) and CLUELESS (from EMMA). The classic film of THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was updated to the time when it was made (1950s) rather than its original 1890s setting.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL, of course, boasts a huge number of film adaptations, some of which have contemporary settings. Three movies illustrate different ways of approaching such a project: A DIVA'S CHRISTMAS CAROL obviously takes place in an alternate universe where Charles Dickens's novel was never published. Nobody in the cast seems to find anything odd about a Black superstar singer named Ebony Scrooge with a dead partner named Marley (one member of the female trio Ebony belonged to at the beginning of her career) and a manager named Bob Cratchit who has a sick child called Tim. Ebony has a niece, rather than a nephew, with whom she reconciles at the end. This retelling is fun and, in my opinion, surprisingly good. The characters in the comedy-drama SCROOGED, on the other hand, are thoroughly genre-savvy, being involved in a production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL themselves. Its star's happy ending has one feature most adapatations don't; he wins back his former lover, the movie's Belle substitute. AN AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CAROL, whose Christmas Present action occurs during the Depression, completely revamps the story with new names and backstories for the characters within the familiar basic plotline. Although the Scrooge figure, Ben Slade, is aware of the book, he hasn't read it. It's clear he's not much of a reader, especially given his decision to destroy the repossessed contents of a bookstore for the books' paper and leather components. When he glances through the novel, he pronounces it "claptrap" and is even more resistant to belief in spirits than old Ebenezer.

Of the three, I like the last one best. The Depression-era setting resonates with the wealth-and-poverty dichotomy of the original story's Victorian background. Ben Slade (played by Henry Winkler -- very effectively, too) has similar financial power over the less fortunate characters as Scrooge in Dickens's book. In fact, Ben has more power, since the action takes place in a small New England town, where he's virtually the only rich, influential person. The wintry landscape visually enhances the story, too.

Like many classics, A CHRISTMAS CAROL can be reimagined to a considerable extent while still keeping the fundamental plot and characters recognizable (Mr. Magoo? Mickey Mouse's Uncle Scrooge?), even if a modern milieu is chosen and requires omitting the "Bah, humbug!"

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Friday, December 23, 2022

Two Crucial Writing Goal Sheets by Karen S Wiesner

 Writer's Craft Article by Karen S. Wiesner

Two Crucial Writing Goal Sheets

Based on FIRST DRAFT OUTLINE (formerly titled FIRST DRAFT IN 30 DAYS)

Once you become a published author, the pressure to maintain the standard of quality with every book is crucial. Publishers and readers will expect that, as you the author have to of yourself. That’s why it’s absolutely essential to become a productive writer as soon as you can--ideally, before you sell your first book. You’ll be confident about what you can do, and you’ll have more to offer any publisher who contracts for your books.

A good rule of thumb for unpublished writers is to stay one or two projects ahead of your submissions. If you’re a published author, you should stay one or two projects ahead of your releases. Three to six months before a new year, you need to be thinking--or preferably working--on next year's projects.

Writing Goals

The purpose of a writing goal sheet is to help you determine how much time you need to spend turning your formatted outline into a manuscript draft. To complete this goal sheet, you’ll need to have a rough estimate of how much you can accomplish on a daily basis. As a general rule, writing at least one scene a day, regardless of how long or short that scene ends up, is ideal. If you’re prone to writer’s block, the chances of burning out or hitting a roadblock are significantly less when you’re brainstorming on one scene a day instead of two or more. Furthermore, each scene must be written with its own mood and objective--it can be difficult to switch gears in the middle of your writing session when you have to move on to the next scene. If you stick to writing one scene every day, you’ll rarely feel you’re doing too much or too little. If your scenes are consistently too long or short, you may need to re-evaluate whether your pacing is on track, and make any necessary adjustments.

For some authors, it works best to write a certain number of pages a day instead of a scene or more a day. Personally, I find this method to be inefficient, though I know everyone's different and what works for one writer is unimaginable to another and vice versa. Writing page by page, even if you’re going strong, do you stop at 10 pages using this method? If you’re not feeling inspired at all, do you quit at 10 pages, even if you’re in the middle of a scene or, heck, in the middle of a sentence? How does that work? Regardless of whether it's not really that dramatic where a page-by-pager cuts off for the day, to me if you haven't finished the scene, you are essentially in the middle of something that has a very specific mood. To come back the next day (or whenever) is to interrupt that mood, which you'll have to start from scratch to get back into when you return. It would drive me crazy to work that way. However, if you choose to write a certain number of pages per day, your goal sheet would be based on the projected length of the book. The chart below will help you estimate the number of pages in your complete manuscript based on the number of words you’re shooting for:

(estimated 250 words per page)

50,000 words = 200 pages

60,000 words = 240 pages

70,000 words = 280 pages

80,000 words = 320 pages

90,000 words = 360 pages

100,000 words = 400 pages

Therefore, if you estimate your book will be 50,000 words and you want to write 10 pages a day (not taking holidays or weekends into account), your goal sheet might look something like this:

1/1: write 10 pages

1/2: write 10 pages

1/3: write 10 pages

1/4: write 10 pages

1/5: write 10 pages

Test yourself for a week or a couple weeks by writing however many pages you can and taking notes on what you accomplish each day. At the end of the time, figure out your average number of pages per day. Then add a page or two to your daily page goal to challenge yourself.

It might sound impossible to accurately predict how long it’ll take you to complete a project, especially down to the day (assuming life doesn’t throw you any radical curves). But there is a method for doing just that that anyone can use. You need to complete the following steps before you can make your prediction:

1.     Develop a solid idea of how much you’re able to write per working day. (This method works best if you write scene by scene rather than page by page.)

2. Determine whether you’ll work weekends or holidays, and what your schedule (personal, writing, and your other job, if you have one) is like for the time period in which you’ll be working on this particular book.

3. Complete a formatted outline, with scenes divided.

First, make sure you allow the outline sufficient shelf-time before you begin writing. Next, plan to give yourself at least a week or two before you start writing to go over your outline and make sure it’s still solid.

Using a blank sheet of paper and your formatted outline, make a list of the scenes within the book, putting one scene on each line. Obviously, these scenes will come from your formatted outline. You can simply make a sequential list of scenes, as shown below:

scene 1

scene 2

scene 3

scene 4

scene 5

Or you can specify chapter and scene number:


chapter 1, scene 1

chapter 1, scene 2

chapter 2, scene 1

chapter 2, scene 2

Figure out how many working days you’ll have in a month. (I generally don’t write on weekends, so for me, most months amount to approximately twenty working days.) Now, get out your calendar or planner--whatever you use to schedule your days. Any standard calendar of the upcoming months will work, but if you have events (dentist appointment or whatever) planned during the time you’ll be working, you’ll want to take that into account on your writing goal sheet.

Decide the date you want to begin writing and mark it down on your writing goal sheet next to the first scene. If you’re writing one scene per day, you will then write the next date by the second scene, etc. Don’t forget to skip weekends and holidays if you don’t plan to write on those days.

8/9: prologue

8/10: chapter 1, scene 1

8/11: scene 2

8/12: chapter 2, scene 1

8/13: scene 2

By the time you’ve put a date next to each scene in your book, you know exactly when you’ll be done with the first draft.

It’s my experience, after outlining and writing close to 150 books, that an outline will be approximately a quarter of the size of your finished story. There certainly can be a wide variance because every project is different and some authors write consistently short or long scenes. The list below is an estimate of how the number of scenes in an outline will translate to novel length, assuming there are roughly 250 words per page:

up to 20 scenes in an outline = a novella-length work of 7,000–15,000 words

30–40 scenes in the outline = 50,000–75,000 words

41–70 scenes in the outline = 76,000–90,000 words

71 or more scenes in the outline = 100,000+ words

Here are some examples of how I figured out my own schedule estimations:

Vows & the Vagabond

·       46 scenes at 20 working days per month

·       2 months, 6 days to write an 80,000 word novel, not including editing, polishing, and proposal

·       budget 2 1⁄2 to 3 months for project completion

No Ordinary Love

·       68 scenes at 20 working days per month

·       3 months, 8 days to write a 90,000 word novel, not including editing, polishing, and proposal

·       budget 3 1⁄2 to 4 months for project completion

Tears on Stone

·       74 scenes at 20 working days per month

·       3 months, 14 days to write a 110,000-word novel, not including editing, polishing, and proposal

·       budget 4 months for project completion

You’ll notice I budgeted some extra time at the end of the writing process--that's for editing and polishing.

As soon as an outline is complete, you can work up a writing goal sheet, taking into account shelf-time and a week or two for outline review and revision.

Yearly Goals

Once you have a writing goal sheet, you can then translate the information from your writing goal sheet directly into a yearly goal sheet, something like:

Yearly Goals With New Writing Goal

WHAT I want to accomplish

WHEN I want to accomplish it

Write Vows & the Vagabond

January 10-February 26

Write Tears on Stone

March 8-June 8

Write No Ordinary Love

July 3-September 4

Accurately estimating the time you’ll spend on various projects during the year will be very helpful when you’re filling out your yearly goal sheets. If you want to see examples of detailed, multiyear goal sheets, visit my WIP page here:

Remember: Being productive should not mean being rushed. If a story needs more time, give it all it needs--as long as you continue to meet your daily goals. If you’re a beginner, you may need to be more flexible, but having personal goals can help you no matter what stage you’re in. Should you find that you’re daily goals make you feel rushed, take time to evaluate whether you’re trying to do too much. Would one scene per day be more manageable for you than two? Be more flexible with yearly goals than daily goals.

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of First Draft Outline and Cohesive Story Building

Volumes 1 and 2 of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection

Happy writing!

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here:

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Holiday Parodies

Have I previously recommended POLITICALLY CORRECT HOLIDAY STORIES, by James Finn Garner? Although slightly dated to the specific "politically correct" preoccupations of its publication year, 1995, it's still funny enough to invited multiple rereadings. It begins with an amusing mock-serious reflection on "the task of liberating the holidays from the oppressiveness of tradition." For instance, what does "the senior lifemate's tale about the animals imprisoned in the barnyard" who receive the gift of speech on Christmas Eve tell us about our relations with other species?

The body of the book transforms "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" and four familiar tales or songs. The classic tribute to the night before Christmas becomes "'Twas the Night Before Solstice," with a critique in verse of the overweight, carcinogen-consuming, reindeer-exploiting home invader and the commercialized holiday he promotes. In the stories, Frosty the snow persun (sic) leads a protest march of snow people against global warming all the way to Washington. Considering the number of days in that area with temperatures above freezing, even in winter, the event doesn't end well for the participants. The title character in "The Nutcracker" raises an army against the expansionist aggression of the Mouse King but ultimately, with Clara's help, seeks a peaceful resolution, recognizing that mice have been feared and marginalized for too long. Rudolph the Nasally Empowered Reindeeer organizes a union to uplift reindeer and other oppressed North Pole employees.

The longest and most detailed retelling, naturally, satirizes "A Christmas Carol." It starts, "Marley was non-viable, to begin with. . ." setting aside philosophical questions about the nature of death and the afterlife, that is. After undergoing "Past-Regression-Future-Progression" therapy, as opposed to the Negative Alternative Outcome (i.e., George Bailey) procedure, Scrooge comes to the conclusion, "I'm the victim here." Hence, the heavenly bureaucracy plans an even more extreme treatment for him.

You can find the book on Amazon here:

Politically Correct Holiday Stories

Garner also published two collections of similarly fractured fairy tales and a book of "politically correct parables" (which are less irreverent than one might expect).

My favorite holiday parodies, however, come in the form of Lovecraftian versions of popular songs on two albums from the H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society, A VERY SCARY SOLSTICE and AN EVEN SCARIER SOLSTICE. The website also offers songbooks with lyrics and footnotes:

H. P. Lovecraft Historical Society

Click on either "Music" or "Holiday Treats" to find the albums. Some of my favorite selections: "Away in a Madhouse," "Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice," "I Saw Mommy Kissing Yog-Sothoth," "I'm Dreaming of a Dead City," "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fishmen," "Little Rare Books Room" (to the tune of "Little Drummer Boy"), and "Harley Got Devoured by the Undead" (to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer"). It might be unwise to sing these songs too loudly, though, lest you call up what you cannot put down. :)

Merry winter holidays and happy New Year!

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Wet Words

When I play word associations, I go from "wet" to "work".  No doubt Clint Eastwood is to blame; I must have watched The Eiger Sanction at too verbally impressionable an age. 

I had not heard the expression "a wet signature" before this week, when legal blogger Sarah Phillips of the mostly UK and European law firm Abel Imray caught my attention with her globally-applicable Practical Guilde To E-Signatures.

Original Link:
Lexology link:
The blog explains what an e-signature is, the forms it can take, the advanced versions used by DocuSign or AdobeSign, and QSDCs, and best practices around the world.
Personally, I am wary of the security of a system where the signer has the choice of maybe 5 signature-like fonts. How does one remember what one chose (apart from studying the copy of the contract)? And wouldn't that give an identity thief a one-in-five chance of guessing correctly?
As for the scribble that one is asked by the HVAC service guy to fumble on his ipad with one's finger, it seems to me that an X would be just as good. 

Legal bloggers John Yiokaris and Fabrice Pilla of Sotos LLP offer a Canadian perspective on what is, and what may not be, legally binding in Canada with respect to e-signatures.
Fantasy author Bethany Atazadeh  has a video on three or four ways of doing a virtual book signing, but she appears to use actual wet words. You can do online searches for other tips about virtual signings.

When I was first traditionally published, we were warned to have a special "author" signature which is different from one's banking/voter-registration/contract signing John Hancock. It's probably yet another reason to write under a pseudonym.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 
EPIC Award winner, Friend of ePublishing for Crazy Tuesday   


Friday, December 16, 2022

Karen S Wiesner: Presentation is King, Part 3

A Reader's Commentary

Presentation is King, Part 3

by Karen S. Wiesner

In this final of a three-part commentary using author Christopher Paolini's two series, I talk about the conundrum of how important presentation is with massive sagas.

While I was reading To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, the first installment in Fractalverse, I started to ask myself why I've always had such trouble finishing--or frankly, even beginning--any of Christopher Paolini's books. Everything is in his favor: He's an excellent writer, no dispute there. Some of my favorite books are written in the fantasy genre, as his The Inheritance Cycle is. I adore dragons. I love science fiction, and, when combined with horror, it's a win-win for me. The bottom line is that I highly recommend the two series written by Paolini to any fantasy and sci-fi lover.

However, almost unconsciously while I worked to get through To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, my brain was analyzing my reactions to reading all of his offerings. I enjoyed the most the first parts of both his series. Then I got bogged down. In last week's commentary, we talked about three explanations for why this was the case. We also established that we live in a time in the publishing industry when there are fewer and fewer readers and almost nobody has an attention span that extends beyond a few hundred words. So what options are there for those of us who want to be die-hard readers but find the sheer size and complexity of many of the books and series published these days intimidating and overwhelming?

Potential Solutions

I'm absolutely sure that if the author and/or the publisher had presented the six individual parts of Christopher Paolini's To Sleep in a Sea of Stars in separate volumes instead of one massive book, I would have enjoyed them so much more. My silly brain would have accepted each was an installment of the whole and wouldn't have demanded I read through the ponderous tome in the way it was presented to ensure I got the scope of the story. I could have come back into each individual segment fresh, especially if they were published back-to-back over the course of a few months (in the case of To Sleep… maybe 3-6 months). I believe I would have been eager to devour each portion if they'd presented them in a different way that prevented my head from being overburdened by too much in one place at one time.

To keep costs down, one cover design could be created, possibly in different shades for each section (see below), with the part in the series highlighted on the front, as in To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Part I; To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, Part II, and on through Part VI. To avoid losing readers who are cheap (and who can blame them?), each segment could have been priced at $1.99 to $2.99.


Can I also just interject here that reading physical copies of books as large as Paolini's are is an exercise in arthritis foreshadowing? Even the mass market paperback {mmp} of
To Sleep in a Sea of Stars was agony. My poor hands were cramping, holding up this unwieldly, bulky conveyance of words. Yes, maybe this is a good case for ebooks, and I know it compels a good many toward digital editions. That's great. I highly approve. But I've never loved ebooks. They give me a headache and, frankly, I'm still holding something fairly heavy despite that the device I use can actually contain thousands of books instead of one. For those of us who still love a printed edition, smaller volumes would be ideal.

Also, the recaps that tend to be in each subsequent book in a series needs to be minimalized. In other words, one page instead of five plus. I appreciate that refresher and believe it needs to be there, but distilling the story thus far down to the core elements is all that's truly needed. Maybe the author could have the full synopsis on their website in case readers want more detail.

Additionally, the appendices are fantastic. I love them myself. However, when they become compendiums on their own, they need to be published separately for avid fans of the series. Paolini's publisher actually did publish a 32-page supplement to The Inheritance Cycle, called Eragon's Guide to AlagaĆ«sia, providing a collection of information about the characters, settings, and objects referred to in the novels. It was published just prior to the fourth and final volume and hinted at the upcoming end of the series. However, when a book is already gigantic, appendices that are more of "series facts at your fingertips" entries might be unquestionably more useful to readers. As in, "Who or where or what is this again?" Glance in the back, where vital information is presented in a user-friendly way. "Ah-ha! Blank filled in. Now I can return to my immersive reading." 

Finally, I think die-hard and dabbling readers alike find it much easier to digest everything that's required of them in these labyrinthine sagas within film or TV series adaptations. Something about that visual medium allows for simpler absorption. So good news for fans of Paolini: In July 2022, it was announced that a TV adaptation of The Inheritance Cycle was in early development with Disney+. In August 2022, it was revealed that To Sleep in a Sea of Stars (and potentially the whole Fractalverse?) was being adapted as a television show by another production company.

While I'm sure the possible solutions to my conundrum about how so many massive sagas are presented and maybe should be presented instead could warrant full articles and certainly debates on their own, I bring us back to the point of this commentary:

Presentation is king!

Readers love series. That's not going away. But we're losing die-hard readers with every passing year and, as a result, more and more dabbling readers want shorter, easier to digest volumes, presented in a variety of creative ways that may be more appealing than holding something that's as thick as concrete block for long periods of times.

 Happy reading!

Karen S. Wiesner is the author of the 3D Fiction Fundamentals Collection

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series.

Visit her here:

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Giant Viruses

Scientists have discovered and revived a 30,000-year-old virus, not seen since the Upper Paleolithic era, buried under the Siberian permafrost:

Ancient Giant Virus

This organism is "giant" on the virus scale; that is, it's big enough to be seen with an ordinary microscope. Fortunately, it poses no danger to humanity. It survives and reproduces by infecting a species of amoeba. However, the fact that this microbe remains infectious after so many millennia of dormancy implies that "it's possible that dangerous viruses do lurk in suspended animation deep belowground. . . . These viruses are buried deep, so it's likely that only human activities — such as mining and drilling for minerals, oil and natural gas — would disturb them."

Has any SF novelist used this premise in an apocalyptic novel about a pandemic for which no immunity or cure exists? Inevitably, the concept of a dangerous organism frozen in suspended animation for tens of thousands of years brings to mind the alien shapeshifter discovered in Antarctica in John W. Campbell's classic story "Who Goes There?" (adapted to film at least three times, first as THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD). Also lurking at the South Pole, prehistoric shoggoths are awakened in H. P. Lovecraft's AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS.

Or could microscopic life on Mars from thousands or millions of years ago be merely dormant rather than extinct?

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Bad Faith

The intellectual-property-related legal blogs have been exceedingly dry these last two weeks, so it took a lot of reading to find a nugget. Bad Faith might be it.

Insurance-law blogger Stacy Manobianca offers a great definition of bad faith for the Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. firm.

For the EU and UK centered, intellectual property law firm Murgitroyd, legal blogger Sharon Kirby discusses the anonymity-loving artist Banksy, and the fascinating question of whether [and this is my own characterization] someone who says that "copyright is for losers" can, in good faith, prevent others from exploiting brilliant street art in a dog-in-the-mangerish sort of way. Again, those are my phrases. And there is a legal fig leaf for the dog.

Sharon Kirby writes:

"Creative works are generally protected by copyright. However, the Scarlet Pimpernel of the art world has — on more than one occasion — made plain his position that ‘copyright is for losers’. Certainly, aside from an anarchic stance, Banksy’s ability to use copyright as an enforcement measure would most likely be scuppered by his desire to have his true identity remain hidden."

Describing Banksy as "the Scarlet Pimpernel of the art world" is a wonderful metaphor. It particularly caught my attention because I'm working on a Scarlet Pimpernel-ish series in my alien djinn worlds

Apparently, one cannot protect a copyrighted work in the courts of law if one wishes to retain ones anonymity. Therefore, Banksy is alleged to have trademarked some of his best works instead, but there is a question of whether one can hold a trademark when one does not intend to use the trademark for the goods and services.

One cannot "trademark" a phrase or a word or a design with the sole purpose of stopping anyone else from using it. The trademark must be used to identify and protect a brand, a series, or goods and services closely associated with the expression, and it must be used. That is why I put  SPACE SNARK™  below my name on every blog post I write.

Back to Banksy. The Murgitroyd article is well written and an easy and edifying read. It seems that there is a bare (or not) minimum that a trademark owner can do in order to prevail against opportunistic [my opinion] third parties... even if the author or artist has said offered quite "piratical" opinions about copyright and property rights.

For more enlightenment on the "pirate-speak", read the article.

All the best,

Rowena Cherry 



Friday, December 09, 2022

Karen S Wiesner: Presentation is King, Part 2

A Reader's Commentary

Presentation is King, Part 2

by Karen S. Wiesner

In this second of a three-part commentary using author Christopher Paolini's two series, I talk about the conundrum of how important presentation is with massive sagas.

While I was reading To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, the first installment in Fractalverse, I started to ask myself why I've always had such trouble finishing--or frankly, even beginning--any of Christopher Paolini's books. Everything is in his favor: He's an excellent writer, no dispute there. Some of my favorite books are written in the fantasy genre, as his The Inheritance Cycle is. I adore dragons. I love science fiction, and, when combined with horror, it's a win-win for me. The bottom line is that I highly recommend the two series written by Paolini to any fantasy and sci-fi lover.

However, almost unconsciously while I worked to get through To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, my brain was analyzing my reactions to reading all of his offerings. I enjoyed the most the first parts of both his series. Then I got bogged down. In this week's commentary, I have some explanations for why this could be the case.

First, in both these series, just as with most fantasy and science fiction tales, a plot and its players aren't the only things that have to be created. An entire world (or a universe in the case of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars) needs to be constructed and the underlying "explanations" for anything outside the norm of existence has to be detailed. All that has to be added to the plot and players. One brain can become overwhelmed by all that needs to be absorbed to become immersed.

Second, the Eragon books. Books 2-4, each contain a 5-7 page synopsis of what's happened before in the series. This is a great thing, probably necessary, and every single subsequent book in a series--any series--should probably have one. It's helpful not only if it's been awhile since you read the previous book but it also covers anything vital you might have missed while you were trying to get through the former volume. But, man oh man, that is dense reading right here. It's like wading through a bog with muddy muck sucking you down and plants that catch your legs and prevent you from progressing with each new step before you finally get to the other side and can actually begin your journey. {That last sentence was a bog of its own!} There were times I regretted endeavoring to begin with the synopses I did actually need to read for each one to understand what was going on. Doing so, though, made me feel like I might never get to the actual story I was trying to read. It's not that these introductions are even poorly written--not at all. They're certainly abbreviated, well-condensed, and a good summation of the vital points. Yet it was another thing to get through, on top of plot, players, universe and contextual detail for the series.

Third, backmatter: Paolini has these in all this books, and this is good stuff. This is the lore, the very essence of the worlds he's creating. He includes origins, languages, pronunciation guides, glossaries, addendums, appendices, terminologies, technologies… Sci-fi and fantasy readers love this richly fleshed out stuff. But it's just more on top of the sheer, shocking number of pages in each volume added to the plot, players, universe, and contextual details…

Combined, these three aspects exhaust me too early and too much in the reading. While undertaking To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, I truly thought there was no way I could get through the whole volume once I finished the first, 160 page part. I'd barely begun the story at that point either. Because the individual parts had been packaged in a single volume, I mentally couldn't get myself to treat each segment like a finished installment. Because the author and/or publisher had packaged the parts in a single volume, I could see no way around not reading them back to back. And exhausting myself in the process.

I did push through, growing more and more overwhelmed as I completed each installment. I will interject that I did enjoy the story itself--again, it was well-written with exciting and compelling characters and plot, with just enough universe and contextual detail to make everything logical. Each part of this tale was doing the job it was meant to in bringing the story to full culmination. Yet I labored to get through them, just as I had with the books in The Inheritance Cycle.

Paolini isn't the only author I have this issue with. R.A. Salvatore, George R.R. Martin, James S.A. Corey are some others (amazing authors!) who come to the forefront of my mind as well. The only reason I'm "picking on" Paolini (a writer I'm a genuine fan of, as I am the other authors mentioned here) is because I happened to be reading one of his books when I realized this conundrum is actually an issue with me. I don't believe I'm alone in that either.

Ultimately, I believe the bottom line on why these kinds of epic sagas are so overwhelming comes down to presentation. All of these series are massive. Each volume has countless characters, endless plots, complicated and richly drawn worlds, lore, technology, terminology, and contextual details that need to be established and revisited from one book to the next.

We live in a time in the publishing industry where short stories and novellas are popular, whether they're single titles or part of a series. Long stories are still popular, though I'm a little surprised that they're as popular as they always were considering that there are fewer and fewer readers these days and attention spans could qualify for a new Guinness World Record considering how short they are. Almost nobody has an attention span that extends beyond a few hundred words. Readers--the die-hard kind who've kept the industry afloat since the very first bound book was published--are drying up. For the dabbling readers who have replaced them, purchasing physical copies of anything is a dying practice. Handheld electronic devices rule our lives--and let's face it--very few are actually reading on them.

So what options are there for those of us who want to be die-hard readers but find the sheer size and complexity of many of the books and series published these days intimidating and, let's not mince words, overwhelming?

In next week's commentary, we'll wrap up this three-part topic by talking about some potential solutions to the conundrum of how to present massive sagas to readers.

Happy reading!

Karen Wiesner is an award-winning, multi-genre author of over 150 titles and 16 series. Visit her here: